I've experimented a bit on heating tubs of water, sometimes successfully!
My water heater is a propane BBQ so things are a little different but worth discussing I think.
The first thing I learned was that insulating the tub of water helped more than adding copper tubing. My tub was built using 2x4 house construction methods with the corners braced with steel angle brackets. With a little forethought I bet ratchet straps would work too. The tub was lined on the inside with 2" construction Styrofoam and when I wasn't in the tub I had a layer of the same Styrofoam floating on top. The water was contained by a single layer of common tarpaulin (tuck the corners down as you fill or you risk tearing)
Having the copper tubing touch the steel of the stove or pipe will help greatly. Would you be able to solder the copper to the steel in a few places?
Inverters are not 100% efficient. They get more efficient as they reach their max output so you should size your inverters with care if pinching every last watt is important to you (as it is for me). More electronic cut outs and sensors and whatnot are just going to be more electrical draws.
Solar living has three main components:
1. lower your power consumption
2. increase your power production
3. increase your power storage.
for your fridge, I wouldn't complicate things with relays and voltage sensors and automatic cut outs. Increase the efficiency of the fridge with better and more insulation while making sure that the fridge can dump out the heat it makes through the coils on the back. Put your fridge on a timer so it only comes on during daylight (charging) hours and don't open the door outside of those times.
If batteries are unaffordable, lower your standards and run the batteries that someone else thought no good anymore and test them frequently. Keep the ones that work well, recycle the others. 'They' say that batteries are only good for a short number of years but this is not really true. With care a good battery can last as long as twenty years without too much loss of overall capacity. More importantly, a battery that is only holding 3/4 of it's original capacity is still a viable battery and rich folks will throw them away as soon as they are no longer 'perfect'. You will still get some valuable use out of them.
Off grid is cheaper at the initial purchase because the equipment that ties you to the grid is very expensive. Another tidbit to consider with grid tied systems is that they shut down during a power outage (generally). this is to protect linesman from getting electrocuted by lines that are powered by the load side. For example, when a line breaks and hits the ground, one side is live and the other is dead. If your panels add power into the system, the line that would typically be dead will now be live also, or a line that was dead a minute ago could suddenly come alive as conditions at your panel change.
For what the OP is considering my advice would be to purchase a lower end solar charger and a used deep cycle battery or two. The batteries won't hold as much power as new ones but they will buffer the sporadic nature of the panels which are affected by everything from clouds to tree branches to bird poop.
Something else to consider if you want to avoid batteries and solar chargers is that a nominal 24v panel can run closer to 35v (Vmp, volts at max power production) in full sun and as high as 42v open circuit voltage (Voc, max voltage possible).
A couple of cheap deep cycle batteries (2 6V batteries in series) and a bargain bin charger can be had for under or around a hundred bucks and would be effective at protecting electronics and would allow you lights and laptop charging at night.
Good batteries would allow running the fridge overnight.
A good charger is great for maximizing storage of the energy harvested and for maintaining healthy batteries.
A little late for a welcome but I just noticed that you were the poster of a youtube channel I was watching (before I went off grid and lost my in house internet connection). Congratulations on not freezing through this last unusually cold PNW winter. I had hydro power last winter but this coming will be PV only. Anyways, Welcome!
It would certainly be better to have a battery or two. Don't be afraid of using old batteries, they are not as great new but they are better than nothing. It's nice to be able to charge your laptop at night.
A lot of people say that you can not mix and match batteries but I have been reading a lot of scientific studies regarding this and it feel that it is simply not true.
Some rules need to be followed though:
1. Batteries wired in parallel must have the same charging characteristics. for example an standard lead/acid car battery may charge up to 14.8 volts while an AGM (also acid based) may only be good to charge up to 14.4 volts.
2. batteries wired in series should have the same amp/hour capacity.
Due to internal resistances one battery may release it's current sooner than the other (ex: a newer battery may partially discharge before the older battery parallel to it does, for early stages of the discharge) and this will cause the more used battery to 'wear out' sooner but not sooner than a single battery would have anyways.
Also, when the sun first comes up and the panels start to make voltage but before they produce amperage, they can create a momentary high voltage that could feasibly damage sensitive equipment. A battery bank would soften this.
Rebecca Norman wrote:I don't understand what the shelves are in the photo of the trailer-coop above. For sleeping, chickens like perch bars, just sticks, not shelves. Shelves will collect inches and inches of poop.
A 2x4 on edge (1.5 inches) is perfect for most climates. If you get exceptionally cold winters then the 2x4 set the other way (3.5 inch perch) will allow them to sit on their toes to keep them warm but the poop will pile up.
I agree with all of that. I should add a clarification to what I said earlier about 12.5v not being enough. When you set your mppt to the default '12v' it will actually charge it to a more appropriate voltage, likely around 14v. The mppt calls it 12v just to keep things simple for the user.
Sometimes adjusting the mppt is a good thing to do. 12.5 volts isn't going to fully charge your batteries. Having said that, I believe the manufacture knows best. I would email the battery maker and ask them what you should be charging at. Flooded lead acid, I'm guessing closer to 14 volts than 12. I would trust the battery manufacturers recommendation over the MPPT guy because not all flooded lead acid 12v batteries are the same.
Anne Miller wrote:.. If you have time but not money, well then ..
you would be hard pressed to cleanly separate one pallet, remove the nails, lay it up and screw it together in a 2x4 format in under one hour. A factory 2x4 costs around $2. When you factor in those screws you are working at pallet wood for an equivalent of $1.50 an hour. You would be better off getting a bad temporary job for $4 an hour and buying twice as many 2x4's per hour than you could make yourself. I agree generally with upcycling pallets and I have a stack that I use wood from myself but sometimes they are not the best choice. When it comes to making eight foot long weight supporting columns, I don't think they are appropriate. If you find a shipping crate or specialized pallet with long pieces of solid wood, well that would be another story.
Anne Miller wrote:If someone has access to lots of free pallets, they could be taken apart then nailed or screwed together, staggering them might make them longer. Like a 2" x 4".
I think that after you factor in the time and effort of pulling pallets apart in full pieces, add the cost of screws and more time putting pieces together , you will find 2x4's to be pretty cheap. Also I doubt the column strength of a pile of screwed together pallet boards would compare to a single piece of straight wood. Pallet wood is certainly good and useful but I would question it's structural integrity when it comes to holding a heavy roof eight feet in the air.
Is easier to lower your expectations than it is to increase available power.
To that end: a new high efficiency apartment fridge is a good plan. Forget running air conditioning or cabin heat on batteries, both draw huge amounts of power (relative). A washer might be fine, but again I would avoid a high energy user like a clothes dryer. I would also avoid electrically heating water.
For cabin heat, water heat I would use propane. I know it isn't as nice as clean solar but no matter how dark it is outside, propane will still heat you and 'on demand' hot water won't waste a lot of energy. It would also be a good idea to look into a 2-way fridge (electric/ propane) since an electrical outlet may not always be available to a long term traveler.
I live aboard a bus and I would recommend against converting a school bus into a home. Two reasons mostly: 1. typically a school bus has a lower ceiling than hiway buses. 2. You can buy a finished bus for less than the conversion cost.
Sizing a solar system can be tricky. You need to know the power consumption of all appliances (fridge, lights, lap top, heat, whatever), then you need to know the hours of productive light you will get (tough to do when travelling a full country). The "light hours" should be calculated from the worst possible options, which is to say the hours of light you will get in the darkest days of the winter. Your consumption should be calculated using the same, since your lights will be on the most in the winter. Then you need to factor in how many days of "no light" you can handle. 'No light' days are days in the winter when the sky is so overcast that you don't get your expected amount of solar input. Once you can put those things into an equation, the number of panels you need and the number of batteries is easy to figure out.
Looking at the size of your machine and the width of the creek, I would be tempted to lay two 8 foot 2X10 across it and go. If the boards flex more than you are comfortable with as you SLOWLY drive onto it the first time, double up on the 2X10's (screw or nail the doubled boards together to keep them from slipping across each other when wet). I have driven cars and trucks up onto car trailers with 2X10`s without breaking them. I am basing this on the width of your creek being less than 4 feet across (the pics look closer to 2 feet). If it actually is getting close to 4 feet across, try a 10 foot board instead, and move slowly the first time you try it. Even if the board cracks, you will still be on a perfect ramp to pull the machine back out. When you aren`t using it, you could pull the boards up and let them stay somewhere dry to lengthen their life expectancy.
nick bramlett wrote:I don't believe it. Not a single person has two cents? Not even a bone for me to chew on?
Firstly, patience is a virtue. many people have 8 hour jobs they work at so at least wait that long before getting impatient about replies.
Secondly, I am sure you will be just fine, try to avoid scuffing the bark off of the living trees with the equipment you use and don't worry too much about the ground packing down to plant-proof densities. If you are super concerned about forming grooves where the tires run, then run in a few different paths to spread the 'damage' around. The earth will recover from a bobcat running over it several times.
The best part is it allows true darkness for the chicks. I've never liked the idea of exposing the chicks to constant lamp radiation. Light in the day and dark at night.
More than the light, heat lamps scare me because of their fire risk in a brooder. I use a heating pad formed into a tunnel. The chicks will enter and leave the tunnel as they need to to self regulate their temperature (the same behaviour as if they were under a real hen and not a 'mama heating pad'). Instead of a 250 watt fire hazard, I have a 10 watt hearing pad (not sure of the actual wattage of the pad, I forgot, but it was well under 100). Once I moved to the heating pad, dog piles stopped immediately.
Newly hatched chicks have some very specific heat requirements. Too hot and too cold will kill them equally. The best way to brood chicks is to give them a too hot spot that they can move to or away from as they require to self regulate. I suspect the mass would be too hot sometimes and too cold sometimes with no way to regulate themselves.
'mama heating pad' method.
I use an electric heating pad suspended over the chicks making a small heated tunnel that they can run under when they get cold. It is more hen-like in it's application of heat than a heat lamp. It is also a lot less energy demanding than a heat lamp and a lot less likely to burn your barn down. Since a heating pad doesn't take a lot of power, maybe you could use a small inverter and power the pad with a car battery? trade the battery out every couple of days with a second battery on a charger at the house.
Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hey Mark...Great post thread and great questions!!
Would I feed pigeons from New York City to my chickens (in my case Ravens and hawks) no, not if I could avoid it...
If you were to look closely at those New York City pigeons you would notice that 90% of them have leg bands. Most of NYC's pigeon "problem" is not wild birds. There are simply so very many pigeon keepers on the buildings. Most of those birds are probably considerably healthier than "country" pigeons. NYC is not even close to the only city in the east that is like this.
Pigeons like the any other "pest" species are a problem only when humans make them a problem. For the 10,000 years before the present pest rating they were in fact a very important farm animal. They were the second animal to be domesticated after the dog. It is sad to me that so many people have drank the Pest Control Coollaid and miss out on a really amazing animal to raise.
I think his point was that local birds would have local parasites and would have developed natural ways of dealing with it, suddenly adding a bird (food) from a different region would add new parasites that the local birds physiology isn't prepared to deal with. I don't think he was suggesting that new York city is specifically disease ridden. At least not more than any other place.
Cameron Schuckert wrote:Not to move the lamp up and down but to turn on and off the lamp at 90 degrees. I purchased what I needed I think from farmtek, a thermostate which should be arriving today
I suspect that turning the lamp on and off will cause you many problems. It would take a pretty spectacular thermostat to keep the air to within a degree down where the birds are and it doesn't take much cold to kill a whole brooder of birds. Usually people will leave the heat lamp on 24 hrs a day and control the general heat by raising or lowering the lamp. When done this way you can gauge the temperature by looking at where the birds hang out. They should hang out in a ring under the light. Directly (centered) under the light should be too hot so that they have a range of temperatures they can move between. It would be impossible to perfectly control the temp so you create a temperature gradient across the brooder that allows the chick to regulate it's own temperature.
If the birds hang out in a pile directly under the lamp, then the lamp is too high (too low temp) and birds will certainly die in this dogpile.
If the birds stay away from the light, then it is too low and therefore too hot for them. If it is too hot they may move to a cooler area and make a dogpile there for warmth instead. Which again will result in suffocations at the bottom of the pile.
Ideally the little birds will form a ring, avoiding the too hot space directly under the lamp and the too cold space outside of the light. They will venture out into the cold when they want food or water and then they will return when they feel they need to.
I used to use a heat lamp and insulated brooders but now I don't. Now I use a heating pad and it works much better than a heat lamp and a little better than the frightfully expensive brinsea units.
This new method is often referred to on the internet as the 'mama heating pad' method. First you need to find a heating pad that can be set to stay on indefinitely, NOT a pad that shuts off after a couple hours. I used a couple small pieces of scrap wood and a bit of hardware cloth that I had lying around to suspend the heating pad an inch or two above the floor of the brooder. You want this height to be low enough that the chicks can easily press their backs against the pad but high enough that they can easily walk under it. You will want the support of the pad to be smaller than the pad so that the ends of the heating pad can hang down to the floor to make a sort of heated tunnel. Set the temp up high and let the birds decide if they want to be warm or cold. They will run under the pad when they get chilly just like it was their mama. I have a lot more success with a lot less bother than the old heating lamp style brooder. The cooler brooder will also help them to feather out sooner.
Here is a link to some pictures showing how I made my 'mama heating pad'.
I use a 1 3/4" forstner bit and drill most of the way down through the log then I drill a 3/4 hole through the side at the bottom of the other hole to make a rocket stove out of a single log. It burns for several hours and it makes no smoke. It's a bit of a pain in the butt to drill that long hole in the end grain but it makes a nice candle and it boils water fast.
Unfortunately for me, the web browser on my computer for work won't allow me to reply or write new posts. It doesn't seem to recognize the button as being a more than just a graphic. I am not allowed to update the browser.
I understand what you are doing and why, I just wanted to explain why at least one user is still using the old view.
On my single tube feeder, I have no food waste of any kind, but on the four tube barrel feeder I get a small amount of waste. I don't know why that would be, perhaps it's the number of birds or maybe one has a different height from the ground where the birds put their heads in. Both feeders waste less food than the generic farm supply feeder I used to have. If you should try a feeder like mine there are a couple details that don't show up in the pictures. In the bottom of the'Y', I have a blue cap turned upside down and pressed in to fill the space at the bottom of the 'Y' so that there isn't a bunch of feed in there that the chicken may not be able to reach. It is a very tight fit because the blue cap is the same size as the 'Y' but with a little bit of swearing and sweat it will go in. Be sure to use a 'test cap' and not a hard 'pipe cap'. And on the open end that the birds eat from there is a three inch piece of pipe inserted and this small piece is what keeps the hen from scratching the food out on to the floor. The diameter of the pipe is 3" and this is large enough for chickens, turkeys and even embden geese.
The oldest feeder is two years old. No scratches or cracks. I am using 3 inch pipe so only one chicken eats at a time but they share it well. I have seven chickens that use that particular feeder. In another coop I have a similar feeder with a wooden box (for extra capacity) on top of two plastic pipes and that feeder services a number of turkeys. The turkey coop also has some standard poultry feeders so I can't put a number on how many use that one specifically. In my brooder cabinet I have one that is three pipes under a wooden box so that the chicks never have to wait. None of them shows any signs of wear and none of them are glued together.
I also have feeders made from plastic pipe. Mine are made up using black ABS (sewer pipe), it is much thicker and stronger than thin walled pvc. My feeders have been outdoors and subject to sun, rain, snow and geese and have no signs of damage, I didn't even glue them together and they are still solidly attached together.
You might have some trouble if you allow the chickens to regulate their food choice on their own. Much like children they will likely eat the candy (corn) first while ignoring the vegetables.
I also have goldfish in a few of my watering tanks. I am not certain of the size but they are a few hundred gallons anyway. I put 6 fish in each of the tanks two years ago and they all seem to have 3 fish in them now. I don't feed the fish, aerate or filter the water in any way. Occasionally I drain the tank to a few inches and top it back up to keep the water clean(ish). Every winter the tank freezes over and the fish seem to do alright (aside from those few that died early on.)
Sandy soil would be better than clay for a dust bath because the clay particles are very dusty compared to sandy soil and breathing in fine dust isn't good for anybody. I know they call it a dust bath, but dirt bath would be more correct. Basically the bird throws dirt into the air and gets it in under the feathers, oils and blechh stick to the dirt and then the chicken shakes the dirt out. Aside from breathing it in, fine dust may not be ejected from between the feathers as easily.
Oyster shells are used to replace calcium lost in egg shell production so they are good for the birds but they are not hard enough to maintain a sharp edge in the chickens digestive tract.
Sandy soil may be enough for grit, it depends on the particle size and composition. I would suggest buying a bag of poultry grit one time to see what it is made up of and then substitute local dirt to match it. Don't concern yourself with the colour of the grit, just particle size and shape. IE smooth river washed pebbles won't look like the grit but fractured granite bits will.
I don't have direct experience but people have told me that spray insulation inside those 'steel structure quonset huts' keeps them from forming condensation and that without the insulation they are supposedly terrible for it.
20's and 40's also come in a 'tall' version. Many of the outfits that sell these containers used also modify them in a number of ways including insulation, swing doors, roll up doors and windows in whatever wall suits your purpose.
James victor wrote:
It just occured to me Chad , if the home is to be placed on a pond . I assume its not a boat as such , so no motor needed to constantly move it.
I think you could use floats from plastic drums contained in a wooden or welded steel frame.
You have assumed correctly, I don't have pond space to actually use a motor.
I put a small dock on the pond a few years ago using barrels and find it to be very tippy. One problem is that the barrels are not really attached to the dock, they are contained by an overhanging perimeter and the by the weight of the dock itself. I had thought to fix them to the dock somehow and then filling them half full of water so that in order for one side to go down the other side would have to be lifted up but attaching them to the dock without using wood underwater or using pricey stainless steel seemed impossible.
The second problem leading to my tippiness I think I just discovered from the link you shared. I followed that link and then that page's link to the original plans and I think I may have found my actual primary problem. Quoting from the original plans: "If you reduce the size, you will probably regret it because smaller docks are tippy. Being 16 X 16, this dock will give you a stable and comfortable platform. " My dock (the first I've ever tried to build) is 8 X 8 feet.
I'll have to go back and reconsider that sizing. Or maybe build three more and stick them together. Thank you for the link and the pontoon tips, they have been very enlightening.